Potential relief options for the Brewers

November 25, 2012

> As I stated the other day, relievers could be hard to come by this offseason, largely in part to the multi-year deals that Jeremy Affeldt and Brandon League have already signed with the Giants and Dodgers, respectively. But the Brewers are certainly going to need at least one relatively-known name in the bullpen by the end of the offseason in order to shore up what proved to be the anchor of the team in 2012.

Here’s a list of potential closers who are on the market this offseason. Some of them are far out of the Brewers’ reach because they won’t fit financially, some are middle-of-the-pack (the most likely for the Brewers to sign), and some should be stayed away from for other reasons.

Jonathan Broxton
Matt Capps
Francisco Cordero
Kyle Farnsworth
Ryan Madson
Juan Carlos Oviedo
J.J. Putz
Mariano Rivera
Francisco Rodriguez
Joakim Soria
Jose Valverde

You can probably immediately tell who the Brewers are interested in and who they aren’t. In my opinion, the Brewers’ best bet would be Farnsworth, because he’d come relatively cheap and showed huge potential as the Rays’ closer in 2011. It’s doubtful that he’d close for the Brewers, since they seem pretty intent on keeping John Axford in the role, but Farnsworth could fill a gaping hole in the eighth inning if the Brewers fail to sign another setup man (which I’ll get to later). Oviedo- or Leo Nunez, who most probably still know him as- might not be a bad option for that role either, but he hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2011 because of identity issues and injuries. Soria and Madson also haven’t pitched in a big league game since 2011. Capps, Valverde, Cordero, and obviously K-Rod were all flat-out ineffective in 2012. I suppose I wouldn’t mind Broxton after the 2012 he had, but I have to wonder where his asking price would be.

So, of that group, Farnsworth would be the most logical signing for the Brewers. I’ll admit my confidence in him wavered after his 2012, but what more do the Brewers have to lose?

Next is a list of free agent right-handed pitchers, ranging from guys with previous closing experience to near no-names. There are far more names on this list that I wouldn’t mind the Brewers bringing aboard.

Jeremy Accardo
Mike Adams
Luis Ayala
Miguel Batista
Todd Coffey
Jose Contreras
Juan Cruz
Chad Durbin
Jason Frasor
Kevin Gregg
LaTroy Hawkins
Clay Hensley
Bobby Jenks
Brad Lidge
Matt Lindstrom
Mark Lowe
Brandon Lyon
Mike MacDougal
Guillermo Mota
Micah Owings
Vicente Padilla
Chad Qualls
Ramon Ramirez
Jon Rauch
Fernando Rodney
Takashi Saito
Rafael Soriano
Yoshinori Tateyama
Carlos Villanueva
Dan Wheeler
Jamey Wright
Jason Grilli

My wish list from this series of names (while trying to stay within the Brewers’ budget) would be Adams, Frasor, Lindstrom, Grilli, and/0r Padilla. Adams, a former Brewer, has become a different pitcher since he left, featuring a nice cutter to go along with nasty breaking stuff. He would slot perfectly into the eighth inning role. Grilli, Frasor, Lindstrom, and Padilla are all power arms, which is what the Brewers are looking for this offseason.

Anyway, Rodney is by far the best name on the list, but he’s going to draw far too many suitors for the Brewers to compete with; same goes for Soriano. I wouldn’t be completely opposed to bringing Hawkins or Saito back on one-year deals, but health is obviously an issue for both of them at this point in their careers. I also wouldn’t mind seeing Villanueva in a Brewers uniform again, but he’s reportedly looking for a job as a full-time starter.

If it weren’t already obvious, the guys the Brewers need to stay away from include Durbin, Jenks, and Qualls.

Lastly, here is the list of lefty relievers on the market. Seeing as Manny Parra might not be back next year (and he wasn’t effective as the only lefty in the bullpen anyway), I’d like to see the Brewers pick up at least one of these guys.

Sean Burnett
Tim Byrdak
Randy Choate
Pedro Feliciano
J.P. Howell
Will Ohman
J.C. Romero
Hisanori Takahashi

Two of these lefties- Burnett and Choate- would be nice additions for the Brewers, but both are more than likely going to re-sign with their current teams. I’d love for the Brewers to sign Howell- which they are probably capable of doing- but the market for him is reportedly at least eight teams. Feliciano, however, could be a very interesting option. He hasn’t pitched in the Majors since 2010 with the Mets due to injuries. But, before that, he was one of the best lefty specialists in the game, and led the league in appearances from 2008-2010. Even though there are some question marks surrounding him, he might be the best option for the Brewers.

The bottom line is the Brewers need to add at least one or two of these relievers, but there are certainly more than enough to choose from.

(Note: these free agent lists are courtesy of SportsCity)

> Minor moves: 

Indians: Signed Nate Spears and Jose Flores to minor league deals.

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Thanks, Jonny

September 11, 2012

POSTGAME

> The Braves are known for having one of the better bullpens and defenses in baseball. But neither were present tonight, as the Brewers handily took advantage of both of those absences to run away with a 4-1 win.

Mike Minor was on his game, but pitch count got him. He needed 115 pitches to get through just 5 2/3 innings of shutout baseball. But it’s a good thing he needed all those pitches; there’s no telling what would have happened had he remained in the game.

The first run of the game came in the fifth inning on an Andrelton Simmons double play; you know it’s a pitchers’ duel when the first run of the game scores in that way that late. The Braves put in Jonny Venters to start the seventh inning, but he would hand the Brewers the game on a silver platter. He gave up a single to Martin Maldonado and a walk to Jean Segura to start the inning. Jeff Bianchi then put down a bunt that was only meant to advance the runners, but Venters foolishly went for the runner at third base (who he wouldn’t have gotten anyway), and ended up throwing the ball away. That allowed pinch-runner Eric Farris to score and tie up the game.

The Braves removed Venters for Chad Durbin, who let the floodgates open even more. After walking Jonathan Lucroy, he gave up a go-ahead two-run double to Norichika Aoki, who continues to show off his power stroke. Carlos Gomez tacked on the final run with a sacrifice fly.

The bullpen was solid, with Jim Henderson and John Axford putting up scoreless innings to finish off the game.

MY TAKE

> Aoki has come out of nowhere lately as another power threat in the lineup. After putting up a few extra-base hits in yesterday’s game- including a game-tying home run in the ninth- he hit two more doubles today.

> Wily Peralta was solid, going six innings while giving up a run on seven hits. He walked one and struck out four.

Peralta actually looked pretty wild, at least early on. He threw close to half of his pitches for balls and worked behind in the count for the most part. But, with as good of stuff as he has, I suppose it isn’t that huge of a factor.

THE NEWS

> Corey Hart was out of the lineup tonight with an apparent injury to the arch of his left foot. He’s considered day-to-day for now.

> In Ben Sheets’ first return to Milwaukee since he left in 2008, he talked to the media about his injuries and doubters since then.

> The Astros released former Brewers closer Francisco Cordero. I’m guessing he’ll just retire now; after the year he’s had, I can’t imagine any team being even remotely interested in him.

THE NUMBERS

> The Braves got caught on the basepaths four- yes, four– times. Martin Prado got caught trying to take an extra base twice, Martin Maldonado picked off Freddie Freeman at first base on a snap-throw, and Maldonado threw out Jason Heyward attempting to steal second base.

> I forgot that the Braves signed former Brewer Lyle Overbay to a Minor League deal awhile back. He hit a single in the seventh inning.

> Tomorrow’s match-up:

Tim Hudson (14-5, 3.59 ERA) vs. Marco Estrada (2-6, 3.99 ERA)

The Brewers haven’t faced Hudson since May of 2011, and it wasn’t pretty. Hudson threw a one-hit shutout that day. In fact, that was the same day Zack Greinke made his Brewers debut.


Back after two weeks

March 25, 2012

> It always feels good to come back to blogging after a long layoff.

Unfortunately, though, this seems to have been happening to me a lot lately. But, now it shouldn’t happen again for a few months.

Anyway, I’m happy to be back. Posts will gradually start up again regularly (hopefully right away, actually), both on here and Reviewing the Brew. I don’t think much happened Brewers-related while I was away, but I’ll cover the little that did happen during that time now.

> The Brewers’ Spring Training recordhasballooned to an ugly 7-12 over the past few weeks. I know ST really doesn’t mean anything, but it is a bit of a cause for concern. The offense hasn’t done much lately, and the starting rotation is starting to return to earth after their stellar start to the spring. It’s not that they’re putting up bad numbers, but it isn’t much compared to what they were doing a few weeks ago.

Despite the lack of offense, there have been a few guys here and there who are turning heads early on. New shortstop Alex Gonzalez is hitting .400, and hit his first homer of the spring today against the White Sox. Jonathan Lucroy is continuing to tear it up, as he’s hitting .483 (although he was in the .600’s for awhile before falling to that average). If you consider the awful start Aramis Ramirez had, then his .276 average isn’t bad. Ramirez also hit his first homer of the spring today. Then there’s Mat Gamel, who’s hitting just .256, but his case is similar to Ramirez’s.

Unfortunately, Ryan Braun still hasn’t found his stride- he’s hitting just .095. But I’m not too worried about that; he’s Ryan Braun. He’ll find it eventually.

Like I said earlier, the pitching isn’t what it was earlier this spring, but it’s still solid. Yovani Gallardo’s ERA is 2.77, Zack Greinke’s is 0.73, Chris Narveson’s is 2.70, and Randy Wolf’s is 3.26. Most of those are actually great, but if you consider that all of them had 0.00 ERAs throughout the first few weeks of spring, they’re returning to earth.

Also, regarding Shaun Marcum’s status, he has yet to pitch in an ST game. But, it’s sounding more and more like he’ll be ready for Opening Day, which is a good sign.

That’s about it, Brewers-related at least.

> Chris Carpenter was probably dropping f-bombs about this one. It was reported that he’s been diagnosed with nerve inflammation in his right shoulder. That injury may be somehow related to the injuries he suffered earlier in his career during the 2004 and 2008 seasons.

Carpenter was the Cardinals’ projected Opening Day starter after going 11-9 with a 3.45 ERA last year (along with a 3-0 postseason mark). But now the job is going to go to Kyle Lohse, who went 14-8 with a 3.39 ERA in 2011. The Cardinals also have to use Lance Lynn in their rotation now with Carpenter out. So their rotation, in order at this point, is Lohse, Jaime Garcia, Adam Wainwright, Lynn, and Jake Westbrook.

> Meanwhile in Cincinnati, it appears the Reds have lost their projected closer for this year. Ryan Madson, who was signed to a one-year deal a few months back, is having season-ending Tommy John surgery before he even appeared in a Cactus League game. The Reds will probably have to turn to lefty Sean Marshall to be there closer now, as he’s one of the only choices in their bullpen after they let Francisco Cordero walk.

> Anyway, that’s about all I’ve got for now. I should have a post up on RtB tomorrow; I think I’ve got an idea for a topic. Anyway, thanks for reading, and feel free to leave your thoughts.


Looking back at the first week of 2011’s offseason

November 7, 2011

> The first week of the 2011 MLB offseason was rather quiet, with none of the top free agents reaching agreements with new teams (or the ones they were already with). But I guess that wasn’t expected. Anyway, despite this, there were a lot of minor moves, with some more significant than others, and later in this article I’ll try to go through every move made. But, before that, there is one Brewers-related piece of news that I should probably share.

> Dale Sveum is going to be interviewed for the Cubs’ managerial vacancy tomorrow. Ugh.

Over the past few days, Sveum has been considered the front-runner to become the new Red Sox manager, but nothing has been confirmed. And now he’s going to have a chance to become the Cubs’ manager, a team he has seen up close and personally for quite a few years now as the Brewers’ hitting coach.

So the reason I said “ugh” earlier is because, no matter who it is, I find it painful to see someone from a team I like leave for a team I hate. For instance, I was crushed a few years back when Brett Favre left the Packers for the Jets, and eventually the Vikings- a team I despise. (That is, until I figured out what a loser Favre was under the surface, but you still get the point.) Anyway, I’d be happy for Sveum no matter where he goes (if he does end up managing), but let me say I’d be much happier if he went to the Red Sox instead of the Cubs.

> But, with that aside, let’s get to all the moves that occurred during this first week of the Hot Stove. I guess I didn’t realize how much I didn’t cover on BreakingWI, but here’s my chance to redeem myself.

> Frank McCourt agreed with MLB to sell the Dodgers, and hopefully put this divorce-bankruptcy crap behind him and the franchise. The Dodgers suffered that for far too long, and hopefully whoever ends up being the team can right that ship.

> The long expected CC Sabathia opt-out never actually happened, as the Yankees managed to retain him by adding an extra year, worth $25 million, to his already-remaining for years on the seven-year deal he signed back in 2008 (after he left the Brewers). So much for that… I was looking forward to him sticking it up the Yankees’… Er, maybe I shouldn’t go there.

> The Indians acquired 15-year veteran starting pitcher Derek Lowe from the Braves. Lowe has definitely been on a decline in recent years, but the Indians hope his veteran presence can anchor their very young rotation.

> The Phillies successfully signed designated hitter Jim Thome to a one-year deal worth $1.225 million. Oh, wait, they’re a National League team… Apparently they expect him to play a little first base and be a power lefty off the bench, but I can’t see this deal working out very well.

> Cards manager Tony La Russa decided to retire after 33 seasons as a Major League manager. He definitely went out on top, that’s for sure…

> Davey Johnson is going to be the Nationals’ manager in 2012 as well, after picking up where Jim Riggleman left off midway through the 2011 season.

> The Giants exercised their option on lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt, and also signed fellow lefty reliever Javier Lopez to a two-year deal.

> The Dodgers re-signed Juan Rivera to a one-year deal worth $4.5 million after acquiring him from the Blue Jays halfway through the 2011 season.

> The Cubs exercised their half of the option on third baseman Aramis Ramirez, but Ramirez declined his half, thus becoming a free agent.

> The Nationals re-signed starter Chien-Ming Wang to a one-year deal, following three seasons full of injuries- two of which he didn’t even pitch at all. But, before that, he was a dominant starting pitcher for the Yankees.

> The Diamondbacks made a few signings on and off the field, as they locked up shortstop John McDonald with a two-year, $3 million deal, along with a one-year deal worth $1.2 million for catcher Henry Blanco. They also extended GM Kevin Towers and manager Kirk Gibson, both of whom completely turned around what looked to be another disappointing season coming in.

> The Brewers declined their $17.5 million option on Francisco Rodriguez, which was inherited from the Mets. They also declined a $6 million option on shortstop Yuniesky Betancourt (HOORAY!).

> The Mets pretty much came out and said that they’re not going to be able to retain shortstop Jose Reyes. Not that I’m surprised, but it’s sort of odd that they’d come out and say it like that.

> The Braves have announced that they would trade starter Jair Jurrjens and outfielder/second baseman Martin Prado, if given a good enough deal. Right now, the Royals look like the best destination, at least for Jurrjens.

> The Giants are willing to trade starter Jonathan Sanchez. Not sure who would want that walk-machine, unless they really need starting pitching.

> The Cardinals declined their options  on shortstop Rafael Furcal and reliever Octavio Dotel. That was surprising to some (including me).

> The Red Sox picked up their $6 million option on shortstop Marco Scutaro.

> The Nationals appear to be in the running for starter Roy Oswalt, whose option was declined by the Phillies prior to the World Series.

> It sounds like the Phillies are literally dying for Michael Cuddyer, which means they’ll probably have him. But that would pretty much nullify the Thome deal, because Cuddyer could play a similar role, but is so much more versatile.

> The Diamondbacks declined options on starter Zach Duke, second baseman Aaron Hill, and shortstop Willie Bloomquist, but are probably open to re-signing Hill and Bloomquist.

> The Blue Jays picked up their option on outfielder Edwin Encarnacion, but declined their option on reliever Jon Rauch.

> The Royals picked up their $6 million option on closer Joakim Soria, who is coming off a horrible 2011. But, prior to that, he was one of the top closers in the game.

> The Reds picked up their option on second baseman Brandon Phillips, but declined the option on closer Francisco Cordero.

> The Padres declined options on starter Aaron Harang, reliever Chad Qualls, and first baseman Brad Hawpe. I thought it was interesting that they didn’t pick up Harang’s option, because he actually quietly put up a good season.

> The Rays exercised their option  on starter James Shields and closer Kyle Farnsworth, while declining both of those pitchers’ batterymate, Kelly Shoppach.

> Mariners closer David Aardsma, who did not pitch at all in 2011 due to an injury from 2010, has elected free agency. Whichever team that signs him will probably have to wait until at least June for his services in the Majors, however, as he’s still recovering from the injury.

> The White Sox picked up their option on reliever Jason Frasor, who they acquired from the Blue Jays at the Trade Deadline.

> The Indians exercised their option on starter Fausto Carmona, but declined the option on the injury-plagued center fielder Grady Sizemore.

> The Pirates declined options on catcher Ryan Doumit, shortstop Ronny Cedeno, catcher Chris Snyder, and starter Paul Maholm. I thought they should have kept Maholm at least, because he’s good- just doesn’t get run support. But they can do whatever the want to keep themselves from having their first winning season since 1992, for all I care…

> The Rockies declined their option on starter Aaron Cook. That was definitely expected, as he’s been injury-plagued and ineffective over the past two years.

> Lastly, the Rangers exercised their option on Japanese reliever Yoshinori Tateyama.

Well, that took awhile, but thanks for reading. Feel free to leave thoughts on these moves, if you have any.



Brewers’ rally against the flameout falls short

September 20, 2011

I see nothing in Carlos Marmol. Absolutely nothing.

The Brewers fell to the Cubs today, 5-2, and their magic number will stay at four for at least another day. That’s because the Cardinals beat Roy Halladay and the Phillies (talk about a worthless bunch). But that’s why I hate the Phillies- when I want them to win, which is rare, they don’t. And they win the rest of the time.

Anyway, back to the Brewers and Cubs. All five Cubs runs were driven in by Geovany Soto, who hit two two-run homers and had a RBI single. The only Brewers runs came on home runs by Jerry Hairston Jr. and Casey McGehee.

Chris Narveson had a very short start today, going just four innings while giving up three runs (two earned) on four hits. But, I guess you can’t blame him- the Brewers have been yanking him in and out of the starting rotation over the past few weeks, plus he was injured before that. Switching a pitcher between the rotation and bullpen rapidly is NOT how you help him recover from an injury. Anyway, Narveson took his first career loss against the Cubs with the loss today.

Casey Coleman, on the other hand, dominated the Brewers- just like all pitchers with ERAs over 7.00 do. He went six innings while giving up a run on just two hits. He walked three and struck out eight.

The Brewers rallied against Marmol in the ninth inning, starting with a McGehee solo homer. But, Marmol, after giving up back-t0-back hits, would strike out Taylor Green and Corey Hart to end the game.

Anyway, there are a couple reasons I called Marmol a “flameout” earlier. I just don’t see anything in him. First off, the catcher-converted-into-pitcher is having a horrible year. He has a 3.91 ERA- which is actually pretty high for a closer- and has 34 saves. Sure, 34 saves sounds alright- unless you compare it to the 43 opportunities he’s had. That’s nine blown saves. Marmol actually lost the closer’s role for awhile to Sean Marshall, but was recently inserted back into that slot. Anyway, another reason I don’t see anything in Marmol- his signature pitch, the slider, doesn’t even break half of the time. It just spins up to the plate, resulting in hard-hit balls. And, when the slider does break, it breaks way out of the zone. He’s had outings this year where he walks four or more batters this year, and gives up six or more runs. Not something you want to see from a closer.

Anyway, one more thing- Mariano Rivera broke Trevor Hoffman’s save record with his 602nd career save today. That didn’t take too long; Hoffman barely held onto the record for a year. But Rivera is definitely going to have more than 602 saves- he has a 1.98 ERA, and he’s 42. That’s something you don’t hear too often… Anyway, there’s no other active closer even remotely close to 600 saves- the next closest is ex-Brewers Francisco Cordero. But I can’t see Cordero getting to 600 saves.

But who knows. Maybe in 15 years, we’ll be celebrating John Axford’s 600th save. That’s looking pretty far ahead. But, I’d love to see it, no matter when it comes- if it comes, that is.

The Brewers will look to even up this series in Chicago tomorrow at 7:05 PM CT. Shaun Marcum (12-7, 3.40 ERA) will go for the Brewers, and he’ll be in search for some run support- something he hasn’t gotten over the past month. Marcum has been that one starter that has been amazing on the road for the Brewers, however. He has a sub-3.00 ERA on the road this season. Anyway, Marcum has one career start against the Cubs, in which he gave up two runs over six innings and earned the win.

The Cubs will counter with Randy Wells (7-4, 4.93 ERA). Wells hasn’t lost over his last nine starts, but is 2-3 with a 4.53 ERA in his career against the Brewers.


For third straight day, Brewers hammer Reds

September 19, 2011

If you didn’t see the Brewers’ offense before this series, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you they’d struggled against the Cardinals, Phillies, and Rockies. But, with all the offense in this series, I doubt the Brewers would remember how badly they were struggling, either.

The Brewers won their 90th game of the season today against the Reds, beating them 8-1 in yet another blowout win. With this blowout win, the Brewers outscored the Reds 24-5 in this series sweep of them, and also held them to just two hits in each of the past two games (courtesy of Yovani Gallardo and Zack Greinke). Anyway, the Brewers’ magic number now goes down to four, and, if the Cardinals lose to the Phillies in a game that’s starting right now, then it will fall to three.

Zack Greinke had a great start today and earned his 15th win of the season. That’s actually remarkable, considering he missed all of April and didn’t make his season debut until May 4th. He’s now just one win away from tying a career-high in wins (his career-high, 16, came in 2009, his AL Cy Young year). Anyway, Greinke went seven innings while giving up one run on two hits. He walked three and struck out 10, as he continues to be a strikeout machine. (Also note that Greinke is in the top 10 in the league in strikeouts despite missing a month.)

The Brewer offense started the game with a bang in the first inning. Carlos Gomez and Prince Fielder both hit two-run homers off Matt Maloney, who was making a spot start in place of Dontrelle Willis. Maloney clearly wasn’t ready for this start, as he lasted just 1 2/3 innings while giving up seven runs (six earned). Anyway, Rickie Weeks’ two-run single in the second inning made it 7-0, and Corey Hart’s solo shot in the sixth finished the Brewers’ scoring. The only run the Reds scored was on a Devin Mesoraco RBI single in the fifth.

Ryan Braun had another good day at the plate, going 3-for-4 and raising his batting average to .336. Jose Reyes of the Mets, who Braun has been competing with for a batting title over the last month, wasn’t in the Mets’ starting lineup today. Reyes is currently hitting .331, so hopefully Braun can maintain the lead he has on him.

Oh, and one more thing, Logan Schafer got his first career hit today off usual Reds closer (and former Brewers closer) Francisco Cordero. I guess the fact that it was off Cordero makes it that much better.

The Brewers will travel to Chicago and start a three-game series with the Cubs tomorrow. Chris Narveson (10-7, 4.40 ERA) will make his first start in awhile. The Brewers skipped his spot in the rotation due to off-days the last time through, but, in his last start, he gave up six runs over 5 2/3 innings against the Phillies. Anyway, Narveson has had a lot of success against the Cubs in his career, going 6-0 with a 3.41 ERA against them.

The Cubs will counter with Casey Coleman (2-8, 7.06 ERA). He’s still replacing Carlos Zambrano, who won’t pitch for the Cubs for the rest of the season, and probably won’t pitch for the Cubs next year, either. Anyway, back to Coleman- he’s 0-2 with a 6.20 ERA in his career against the Brewers.

By the way, Justin Verlander of the Tigers picked up his 24th win of the season today against the Athletics. You never see guys getting win totals in the mid-20’s in this day and age. But Verlander is definitely something special… He can’t win 30 games, but, he could probably win 26 or 27 games, which would still be remarkable.


After Greinke’s great start, Brewers get shaky win

August 28, 2011

This win certainly didn’t come easy, but, as you’d expect, the Brewers found a way to pull this one out.

The Brewers defeated the Cubs today, 3-2, and completed a three-game sweep of them at Miller Park. It appeared that the Cubs were going to go easily from the start, as Zack Greinke didn’t even give up his first hit until the fifth inning. But, it turned out that the Brewers would have to get around some late drama to win this one.

But, before I get into any of that, let me say that Greinke had a great start, and definitely rebounded from his awful start in Pittsburgh his last time out. Greinke went 7 2/3 innings while giving up a run on four hits. He walked two and struck out seven. The 7 2/3 innings also tied Greinke’s longest start of the year.

Ryan Braun hit a RBI double in the first inning to get the Brewers on the board first (how many times have I said that over the past week?), which followed a Corey Hart single. That would be it until the fifth inning, when Hart stayed hot and hit a two-run home run to give the Brewers a 3-0 lead.

But, things got interesting in the eighth inning. Greinke gave up a one-out double to Blake DeWitt, and after retiring one more batter, Ron Roenicke pulled him in favor of Francisco Rodriguez. K-Rod came in and promptly gave up a RBI double to Darwin Barney to cut the Cubs’ deficit to 3-1, but he retired Aramis Ramirez to get out of the inning.

John Axford came on to close it out in the ninth, but made it a shaky save. Carlos Pena nearly hit a homer leading off the inning, but it lost carry at the warning track. Then, Tyler Colvin didn’t miss his homer and took Axford deep to cut the deficit to 3-2. Axford then lost his command for a batter and walked Marlon Byrd, and the next batter, Alfonso Soriano, practically hit a go-ahead two-run homer that, like Pena’s, died down at the warning track.

But it didn’t stop there. With two outs and Byrd still on first, Casey McGehee made an error at third base that I thought for sure was going to blow the Brewers the game. But, Geovany Soto grounded out to end the game. (McGehee actually bobbled that ball too, but still made the out.)

Anyway, now that I’m done talking about how shaky Axford’s save was, let me give some positives about- it was his 40th save of the year. He now becomes the second closer in Brewers history to notch 40 saves, the first being Francisco Cordero (44 saves in 2007). It was also Axford’s 37th consecutive save, which continues to add on to a franchise record.

McGehee’s defense in the ninth inning today was just awful, as I mentioned earlier. To be honest, I wouldn’t be surprised to see Taylor Green get his first Major League start the day after tomorrow just because of McGehee’s performance in the ninth. I don’t know if Green is as good defensively as he is offensively, but I don’t think anyone could be as bad as McGehee was in the ninth today.

The Brewers have an off-day tomorrow, but, after that, they’ll face the Cardinals, who they currently have a 10.5 over in the NL Central. So, with a few wins in this series, the Brewers can pretty much knock them out. Here are the probables for the series:

Edwin Jackson (10-9, 3.95 ERA) vs. Shaun Marcum (11-4, 3.38 ERA)

??? vs. Randy Wolf (11-8, 3.37 ERA)

??? vs. Yovani Gallardo (15-8, 3.37 ERA)

MLB has yet to announced the starters for the last two games of the series, but I do know that the Brewers won’t have to face Jaime Garcia or Chris Carpenter, the best pitchers in the Cardinals’ rotation. So I guess that means that we’ll be facing Kyle Lohse and Jake Westbrook, but I don’t know in which order.